February Floods – Time Lapse Painting

February Floods

February Floods

Its more of January floods topped up by a few heavy rain storms over the last few February days that’s caused these conditions. As I write this post, the wind is howling and more rain is pounding the window. I can look forward to more ‘water world’ landscapes although my farmer neighbours won’t be happy.

Its also a celebration of the return of the sun, like the last painting. The colours used are exactly the same, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue. As usual, I blended the sky colours to produce a misty soft look. This involves placing the colours and using a wide filbert brush to stroke the paint gently in every direction, sometimes at right angles to the previous stroke direction. There’s a lot of accidental shapes and random patterns, sometimes wanted and sometimes not. These times there is a need to coax the shapes more in line with what is required. It all looks a bit haphazard and there is knack to getting it right, but the result looks less contrived than a carefully constructed sky.

The lower ‘land’ part is solid paint placed in definite structures to contrast the softness of the sky. In the flooded field there was a softness achieved by painting with ‘dry’ paint and brushing it into the weave of the canvas. Remember the same 3 colours are used in the sky and also the ground. If I had used a different range of colours in each, the contrast between the excessive softness of the sky / flooded field and the gritty solid ground and trees would have been excessive.

Check out the video to see what I mean. See you soon.

Winter Blue – Time Lapse Painting

Winter Blue

Winter Blue

This is the source of the River Barrow, in the woods on the Sliabh Bloom Mountains, west of where I live. It flows north before turning east and then south, to enter the sea at Waterford. Its route takes it through my home town in Kildare. Here its a broad substantial river, onetime part of the western boundary of the English Pale.

This painting uses similar colours (Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna & French Ultramarine Blue) to the previous painting. But the approach is different, right from the outset. In the previous painting the initial under layers were mixed with white to produce opaque light colours and the final colours, darker, were ‘drawn’ on top, similar to a watercolour painting. In the painting above, dark rich transparent colours were built up progressively and the lighter colours placed on top, as in the traditional oil painting method.

I didn’t completely abandon all the watercolour treatments. There are places where ‘washes’ of colour are allowing the canvas colour to shine through (the trees and shadows, lower left). This gives a vibrant, shimmering light and adds a sparkle to areas that tend to be dark and muddy. I also used a nylon watercolour brush to add details on the rivers edge and the smaller trees and branches.

The size is 16″ x 12″, using 3 colours plus white. Apart from the details, using the narrow nylon brush, the entire painting was completed with a single round No.: 12, bristle brush in 2 and a half hours. My colours ‘evolved’ from mix to mix, without cleaning the brush. As only the 3 mentioned colours were used there were none of the ‘muddy’ colours you get from too many incompatible colours mixing together. Obviously, there are never more than 3 in any mix, and even this is a rich range of greys varying with the proportions of the individual raw colours.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Ardscull – Time Lapse Painting



Ardscull (Gaelic) means the ‘Hill of Shouts’. The moat rises to a height of 55 feet with a rampart at the top. Its a landmark visible from nearly every point on the flat planes of South Kildare. This was the site of a battle between the Leinstermen and the Munstermen during the reign of Felim Reachtmar, the ‘Law Maker’, king of Ireland from 111 a.d. to 119 a.d. The Moat itself is a 13th century Norman structure which was added to by the Fitzgeralds in the 15th century. In 1315 a.d. Robert Bruce defeated an army nearby, lead by Sir Edward Butler. Its amazing how well this earthwork has survived the last 700 years with the basic structure intact. One can almost hear the echoes of history reverberate down the centuries when standing on the ramparts of this ‘Hill of Shouts’.

This painting is verging on abstraction. The strong sunlight glistens on the tangle of tree trunks and branches. Its bleak and windswept, especially at this time of year.

A 3 colour painting again. The underpainting was unusual for an oil painting. It was lighter colours applied with loads of solvent which was allowed to evaporate before the darker shades were added. It was painted in 2 sessions. As so much solvent was used in the initial stages I had to wait 24 hours for the evaporation of the solvent. Remember I’m using Alkyd Oils, and were almost dry after the 24 hours. The fine lines were easier to apply on the ‘tacky’ under paint. The end result does not have the rich depth of colour of traditional oils. Its a watercolour effect which has a ‘bleached out’ look in oils.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Sliabh Bloom Woodland – Time Lapse Painting

Sliabh Bloom Woodland

Sliabh Bloom Woodland

This water logged landscape gives very little traction to the roots of heavy deciduous trees and they fall at the first spell of very wet and windy weather.

The tangle of dead branches and smooth water surface makes an interesting pattern and texture.

Three colours used again, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue plus white and no black. The technique is very liquid, something I haven’t done in a while. Dry brush work has a softness and does not express the detail found in a subject like this.

The painting has a ‘watercolour’ look and this is not surprising as the paint was very solvent rich and was flowing like watercolour. The initial colours were thin and wet and allowed to ‘dry’ with the help of a hair dryer. Onto this was drawn the darker trees and foliage – very much a ‘watercolour’ approach. Of course in the final stages the lightest colours were added in the normal oil painting way.

Here is the video, see you soon.

Frosty Morning – Oil Painting

Frosty Morning

Frosty Morning

Early morning, before sunrise. A dull, eerie light filters into the woods. It is the colour of winter foliage and even the frost has a murky colour cast. The winter logging activity has left deep ruts in the roads, now flooded and frozen.

The scene was unusual and the treatment was very different from the standard oil painting method. Firstly, there are only 2 colours used, Olive Green and Indian Red. The lightest colours were applied first. A mix of the two colours was prepared and applied with solvent only to rough in the main elements. Pure white was then painted on top and brushed to start some of the background shapes. The distant trees were painted with a very solvent rich green/red without white. The solvent produced a mixing with the white under layers – giving an ‘atmospheric’ perspective. The closer the trees the less mixing, the deeper the colour. I used a fine brush to sketch in the details of trees and ground details.

The white, a lot was used, was an Alkyd fast drying paint. The other two paints were standard oils. Although this is a single layer painting and therefore should not cause problems with fast slow drying paints, the fast drying Alkyd paint was applied first with the standard oils placed on top.

The opposite of this, placing a fast drying paint over a slow drying layer could cause a problem as the fast drying layer could seal off the slow drying under layer which might never dry.

The painting is small, 12″ x 10″, and took about an hour and a half to complete. Here is the video of the painting process, see you soon.

Spring Light, Dollardstown – Time Lapse Painting

Spring Light, Dollardstown

Spring Light, Dollardstown

Even at midday, with the sun shining brightly, the shadows were still covered in frost from the previous night. Last years growth of wetland rushes and grasses, now dry and brittle, were ablaze in light yet perfectly in harmony with the velvet green of ice covered fresh growth.

I used a colour, Olive Green, in combination with Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue to produce this warmth of spring growth finally covering it with the frosty green of Ochre and Prussian. In oils, Olive Green is almost brownish in colour. A distinctive colour and because of this it had to be used in the sky mixes to knit the sky and foreground together.

The initial sketch of the mid and foreground were painted in raw colours with solvent only. This produced rich transparent colour which was not completely covered by final layers of paint. These patches of transparent colour have an inner glow and help to emphasise the opaque highlights of the direct sunlight.

I an now placing a small blob of Liquin on the palette, not in a dipper as before, almost as if it were a colour. It is viscous enough not to flow and stays put. I can control the quantity in various mixes by scooping a little, as required, and adding it to the appropriate mixes.

Here is the video of the painting process, see you soon.

King’s River, Wicklow – Time Lapse Painting

King's River, Wicklow

King’s River, Wicklow

Spring is creeping into the landscape and the recent heavy rainfall has swollen the river. The erosion of the banks has lead to the collapse of this tree.

I was interested in the contrast between the apparent featureless grass field and the tangle of broken branches and roots of the fallen tree.

The entire painting was produced with only 2 brushes. A no. 8 filbert and a 00 nylon ‘rigger’. There are only 3 colours used (Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue) and the mixes evolved through a series of colours produced by varying the proportions of each constituent tube colour. The large brush was not ‘cleaned’ between the various mixes, the excess was just wiped from the brush on a tissue paper. The result is a harmony of colour as the entire painting is basically the same colour, with variations. The small brush is used to introduce details. This is similar to a watercolour technique as these details are painted with a very solvent rich liquid paint.

Its a different approach to what is normally employed by oil painters where a series of colours are mixed simultaneously and the different colours applied, usually by a different brush reserved for that colour.

Here is the video of the painting process, see you soon.

New Light, Old Year – Time Lapse Painting

New Light, Old Year

New Light, Old Year

The last day of the year and the last painting. The weather is cold and yesterday the sun was shining from early morning burning away the woodland mist. Although the days are lengthening, by just a few seconds at the moment, the promise of spring is definitely here.

I was interested in depicting the effect of the low sun filtering through the undergrowth. I was trying not to produce a ‘photographic’ like image. The prevalence of such scenes in photography has conditioned the way we expect to see it. Even with the modern HDR (High Dynamic Range) cameras the scene will tend to be in silhouette with lens flare and other ‘limitations’ of photography becoming the way we think we see.

The sparkling pinpoints of light were placed with the edge of a knife. Firstly as vertical lines and then overpainted with horizontal lines. This produced a pattern of ‘+’ shapes where the light was breaking through. Impossible to do with a brush, regardless of how small the point.

The colours are Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue and Titanium White. There is no black used. A little Liquin was used as I have found this smoothes the flat areas, like the sky, on this rough textured canvas.

The picture size is 16″ x 12″ and took about 2 hours to complete in a single session. Here is the video of the painting process. See you next year :)

Christmas Past – Painting the sky

Christmas Past

Christmas Past

I have a page for beginners concerning the painting of skies (see tab above). Its a few years since I recorded this video and my method and materials have changed a little since then. Here is the real time video of the painting of this sky.

The principal differences between then and now are:

  • I’m now using Alkyd Quick Drying Oil Colours.
  • I use Liquin to slow down the drying, as opposed to using it to speed up drying as with standard oils.
  • I’m not using black at all.

I can put a layer of ‘the wrong colour’ underneath because the Alkyd paint begins to set quickly. The mixing is thus restricted and less inclined to over-influence the later layers. An example was putting a layer of Burnt Umber under the grey of the clouds. This cloud colour already contained Burnt Umber in the mix but the layer of raw colour underneath is not completely obliterated so an interesting effect is produced.

The technique of blending the colours is the same as in the previous method. This is where a flat brush is quickly, but lightly, drawn across the entire surface, systematically from one side to the other. Vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The initial, almost haphazard, placing of colour is to introduce a randomness in cloud shapes. The blending knits the colours together creating a softness consistent with the sky effect. It requires practice and courage to swipe your brush across the surface in this, apparently reckless, manner. But it does produce great skies.

The video is in real time which gives a better understanding of this blending of colours. Notice the two dippers attached to the palette. The upper one contains a very dilute Liquin and White Spirits (solvent) solution. The lower one is White Spirits only. I use a pipette to add precise amounts of these liquids to the mixes. I rarely ‘dip’ the brush into the dippers because its difficult to get a precise amount and it also creates a mess.

The time-lapse version of the full painting is here.

Christmas Past – Time Lapse Painting

Christmas Past

Christmas Past

Another Christmas flavoured painting. I’m old enough to remember Christmas without television, lights, tinsel, and all the trappings our children expect in this season. There was Santa Clause of course, but he was an imaginary figure. The only clues about what he looked like were in printed illustrations. The task of producing and delivering presents to the entire population of the world was no problem to this guy. Recently, one of our grandchildren was perplexed as to why Santa was using the chimneys to gain access and deliver the presents. Why not use the door, like everybody else?

Rich brown is the colour of the Irish winter. So the backbone of this painting is Burnt Umber, a chocolate colour with a hint of red. It peeps through the snow and frosted grass and its also in the sky colours. The warm colours of the clouds are Burnt Umber and a lot of white. In the context of sky colour it looks OK, even though its a brown colour. This helps to knit the two parts of the painting, sky and ground, together.

There are 3 colours used, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna and Prussian Blue, loads of white but no black. Liquin was used to produce a smooth sky which I now like, after a period of painting skies as textured colour.

I like the lighter colours I’m getting at the moment. Deciding not to use black was a good decision. Here is a painting from 2 years ago when my colours were heavy and stodgy.

Here is the video of the above painting. Its 16″ x 12″ and took under 2 hours to complete.